The final round of the Men’s Victorian Open at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links, Barwon Heads, will be a case of the master and his apprentices.
Veteran Bradley Hughes is chasing his first win for many years on the PGA Tour of Australasia after a five under par third round of 69 lifted him to nine under for the tournament.
But Hughes starts the final day one shot behind the tournament leader, Victorian amateur Nathan Holman.
Holman, 21, blitzed the Beach Course today with the round of the day, a six-under par 66 to sit at the top of the leader board at 10-under par.
Hughes was joined by Steve Jones, who grew up in Geelong, at nine under par with four players – including Craig Parry – right in the mix at eight under par.
Another amateur, Queensland’s Cameron Smith, sits in a tie for eighth at seven under par after a round of 69 today playing alongside Parry for the third straight day.
Hughes is a former two-time Australian Masters champion who played for many years in America for deciding to return home to concentrate on teaching golf in Sydney and Melbourne.
But he’s still a fierce competitor on the golf course and said he’s excited about being in contention tomorrow.
“It’s been a fun week,” Hughes said. “I’ve played pretty solid.
“No matter what I do, I’m teaching Monday. I used to beat myself up if I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, but now I just laugh and keep playing.’’
After signing for a four under par 68, Jones declared he’s ready to breakthrough for his first “big” win as a professional.
“I just really wanted to win this all week,” Jones declared.
“I haven’t really verbalised it, now I have a big chance which was my goal.
“The Vic Open is a big one for me because I came up through the Golf Victoria development program and I know a lot of the older guys out here who looked after me when I was kid.
“This is my seventh year as a pro and I have been up there in a few of these and I have contended in a couple of the bigger ones but I really would love to get my first win.
“Coming top-10, top-15 in the bigger events is good financially but nothing can replace winning and I haven’t been able to take that step yet.
“But I feel like I am ready – mentally I am good and my game is in a good spot.”
Holman has been in this position before recently, when he was joint leader at the half-way mark at the Victorian PGA Championship in January before fading to finish in a tie for 19th.
Holman said he wouldn’t be nervous playing alongside Hughes and Jones in the final group tomorrow.
“If you don’t have nerves it’s a probably a bad thing,” he said.
“I learned you need to play four rounds of golf. There’s not many rounds of golf where you can just blitz the field.”
Holman is a member of Woodlands Golf Club in Melbourne and said watching his fellow amateurs Oliver Goss and Jake Higginbottom win PGA events last year gives him a lot of motivation to follow suit.
“I feel comfortable out here, (I’m) swinging it well and putting it really well today.
“It’s a pretty strong rivalry now (among the amateurs). The competition is strong now – playing in the last five pro events, there’s been an amateur almost near the top every week.”
Overnight leader Andre Stolz had a real mixed bag on his front nine. He almost holed out for an albatross on the par five second, tapping in for eagle.
He then proceeded to drop five shots in four holes.
These included double bogies on the par three seventh – where he missed the short 112m hole left – and the 404m par four ninth – where he found trouble left off the tee and had to take a drop out of a bunker near the practice tee.
Stolz eventually signed for a four over par 76 that’s left him in a tie for 29th.
The round of the morning went to Sydney’s Nevan Basic, who started the day at even par and took advantage of the calm conditions to shoot a five-under par 67.
“I played well and one of the guys I played with, Andrew Tampion, was playing well towards the end so it just spurred each other on.”
The 34-year-old had high praise for the lay-out.
“I’ve been to The Sands (Torquay) before but this course is fantastic,” Basic said.
“It’s in great condition and is a really good natural sort of links lay-out.”
For all the up-to-date news regarding the 2013 Vic Open, check Golf Victoria’s website, www.golfvic.org.au and follow @VicOpenGolf on Twitter.
By: Bradley Green (Vic Open Freelancer)